It was a scene straight from "Revenge of the Nerds". A Rather Unusual Chinaman and I entered Barrica for an impromptu "I'm tipsy, starving and need to soak up those cocktails" emergency feed on Friday night. We walked in, stepped 2 paces and turned to each other with respective glasses fogged over. Just too cool.
However, we managed to de-mist and recover our composure sufficiently to obtain a barside table in amongst the bustling, Barcelona-like commotion.
Setting up Barrica in its Goodge St locale is one brave move, given the terrific Fino and Salt Yard restaurants can be found within 10 paces. However, Barrica is a slightly more relaxed option than its nearby contemporaries (it is more "tapas bar" than "restaurant"), and - for me - while the food may not be of the same quality, it is more evocative of walking into to your average Barcelona tapas joint on a teeming Friday night.
It boasts chef James Knight, formerly of the much lauded Moro in Exmouth Market, as its head chef as well as a really lovely selection of wines (including over 20 sherries - hooray to that!). It's not a place for a tranquil meal (bah, who wants it?!), or perhaps even ultra fine dining quality or creative fare, but we tried a thorougly enjoyable selection of tapas in a fun and boisterous atmosphere.
I started with a glass of the easy drinking, smooth Tinto Fino ordered from our friendly, Spanish speaking waiter - I got the sense that all of the staff were Spanish.
The finely sliced Jamon Iberico Cebo (£6.50) was not the highest grade jamon on the menu (the pigs are fed on just a cereal feed diet, no acorns - so the taste is less nutty, with less marbling, than higher grades), but it was lovely and creamy. It was a fairly decent serving size for the price and quality.
Other dishes included the bright green and juicy Pimiento del Padron (peppers) and some absolutely delicious mushrooms with jamon and Fino sherry sauce were a highlight. This serving was also quite generous in size, compared to some of the other dishes at our table and those surrounding us.
The breaded pig's trotter with tomato and capers (below) was scrumptious and was wolfed down accordingly.
My very poor photography does not show the black pudding sausages for the delights that they were. Yes, they were ugly little runts but the taste was all fatty goodness. We both loved the flavour and somehow managed to share them between us without coming to blows.
The lowlight was probably the charcoal grilled aubergine, pepper and onions which were not bad, but not particularly great, and oilier than expected.
Service was friendly and helpful. And delivered with a Spanish accent to boot.
In all, I think the traditional and lively ambience here has the edge over the food. This is good, unpretentious, wine-accompanying fare, done Spanish style. For the prices (although only £20 per head for us), you should of course expect very reasonable quality food, which we obtained on the night. And it's certainly a fun place for a drink and a nibble or a widespread graze.
I knew I loved Barrica the moment I walked in (once the glasses had de-fogged) and it did not disappoint. I'll be back.
62 Goodge Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 4NE